Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Vegetable Garden Walk-Through Video

Sorry for being slack and not posting info sooner, I've been busy with toy orders and looking after baby chickens and getting the garden ready ... think I've bitten off more than I can chew.
Anyhoo below is a link to my Youtube video showing what the garden looks like as of 10 days ago. Everything is growing so fast that its hard to keep up. I will try and post more info and photos next week when I get a spare moment  .. promise ... **  Garden Walk-Through Video **

Monday, 5 October 2015

Frost Tender Seeds Planted

Posting from Australia - Cold Climate Zone -  NSW, Central Tablelands (central West)  Frost tender seeds planted (Monday 05/10/15) and now sitting behind glass on the veranda waiting to sprout. I basically plant the same amount year after year.
Corn - 108
Beans - 27
Pumpkin - 7
Zucchini - 1
Cabbage - 7
Broccoli - 7
Cauliflower - 7
Tomatoes - 7
Beetroot - 14
Capsicum - 9
Celery 20+
Coz Lettuce -8
Iceberg Lettuce - 8
Spinach - 8
Radish - 20+
Cucumber 8
Potatoes x 10 bags (5 varieties)

Seeds planted last month
Carrots x 4 packets (1 variety)
Peas - 24
Seeds planted in August
Onions x 5 packets (3 varieties)
Garlic planted March (3 varieties)
Strawberries planted 6 years ago

This is a link to what my VEGETABLE GARDEN looked like in Jan 2014

Below is what my garden looks like at the moment. We are just coming into Spring time, the temperatures are slowly rising and the frosts are getting less and less.

The strawberries, peas, carrots & onions are already in the ground. The remaining seeds will stay out on the veranda until second week of November and then they will be transplanted into the main garden.

The garlic is beginning to form bulbs so a couple more months and then harvest time (unless we get a late cold snap which will cause me to harvest them early)

* All seeds used in my garden are "open pollination" - a word describing how plants reproduce and have been reproducing for millions of years before humans came along

* The cauliflower I use is "hybrid"  - Controlled breeding technique .. also occurs naturally in nature. Hybrid does not mean GM (they are 2 different breeding techniques) although companies that deal with GM technology will use both open pollinated & hybrid plants in combination with their gene modification techniques

* The tomatoes, peas & beans are "self pollinating" - means the pollen from its own anther drops onto its stigma thereby fertilizing itself ... the plant doesn't need pollen from any other plant in order to reproduce.

* The Sweet Corn is a "cultivar"  - result of selective breeding and is not GM .   (In USA there is a corn variety which is GM called BT Corn and carries the gene from bacteria Bacillus Thuringiensis, it is only available to cropping farms used under license and not available to back yard gardeners)

* The Capsicum California Wonder is a "Heirloom"   - because its such a great plant that it has been passed down through the generations - the word "heirloom"  does not automatically mean it is superior to any other plant. Its just a word and in botany it doesn't mean much at all.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Bloomin Fabulous Darling

Gotta L.O.V.E. springtime. Everything is sprouting, the fruit trees are looking "fabulous darling". They are covered in blossoms. The reason they look so great at the moment is because we haven't had any strong winds which normally blow off the blossoms and sometimes so strong that the wind can rip off the young leaves as well. 
This photo shows my plum tree *Prune d'Agen* . It is a variety of plum which is used to make prunes. The following information comes from the tag that was on the tree when I purchased it from the Garden nursery.

Name: Prune 'd'Agen

Description: Very sweet, mid to late season prune. A prolific bearer

Features: Reddish purple fruit with juicy yellow flesh. Can be self fertile but suggested pollinators are "Greengage" or "Robe de

Conditions: Plant in moist, well worked, well drained soil. Add organic matter or animal manure to improve soil fertility and structure. Build up depth of soil rather than dig into clay soils. After planting, water in well and keep moist during Summer until well established

For Best Results: Mulch annually with organic matter or compost to aid growth. Fertilise regularly. Prune in Winter by cutting back main stems or leaders by one third. Remove any diseased or damaged wood

Planting Ideas and Uses:
* Use for fresh fruit, Jam and stewing
* Excellent for drying

I use some of them as fresh fruit but most of them end up being dried. Once dry I vacuum seal them in special bags and stored in the freezer. They can stay in there for up to 3 years according to instructions on my dehydrator.  I normally dry prunes, apples and apricots.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Need a bigger onion bed.

Planted the last of the onions yesterday. Normally I grow brown onions and a handful of white ones but this year I've planted red onions as well. Most of them have been planted in the main onion bed but I ran out of room so have planted the remaining onion seedlings into the first half of the carrots bed. This photo shows the main onion bed which is about 9 metres x 1 metre and can hold up to 900 onions although this year I haven't counted them so not sure how many planted this time.

All the onions were started from seeds and I wasn't expecting all of them to sprout as well as they did this year. Not that its a problem because we use a lot of onions so more the merrier!
These next 2 photos show the remaining onions in the first half of what is normally the carrot bed.

The beds have been prepared well in advance of planting with animal manures plus Blood & Bone, this gives the beds time to recover after each harvest. During winter we also collect leaves which are mulched up and added to the soil. Leaves make good worm food.

This year I used 5 packets of onion seeds, 3 packets Brown onions (Hunter River Brown), 1 packet White onions(Gladalan White) and 1 packet of Red onions(Californian Red) .
 I plant my onions late in the season for a number of reasons, with the main reason being so I can leave the beds empty for as long as possible between harvest to give the soil plenty of time to recover. The beds appear to be barren through the winter months but we actually cover (mulch) the entire bed with a deep layer of animal manure which breaks down over the months and is perfect come planting time. Having such massive amounts of vegetables produced & harvested through the growing season requires adequate replacement of nutrients during the resting phase of the garden cycle.

The remaining garden beds will be filled up with other vegetable seedlings in the coming weeks. We are still having frosts most mornings so the frost tender plants like tomatoes, beans, corn etc will have to wait until the temps heat up a bit more. I will be starting the seeds for the corn etc in the next couple of weeks and they will remain out on the veranda and then planted out about mid November. Its just all part of living in a cold climate.

 I am planning on planting out my carrot seeds some time today. I've got 4 packets of them and thankfully we have made the carrot bed slightly bigger this year. They will go into the 2nd and 3rd part of the carrot bed. We had to replace the poles and netting as it was badly damaged from the last seasons snow storm.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Onion Planting Time

Spent this morning working on my onion video, this is the link if you are interested. Growing Onions from planting to harvest & storage.

The video is of last years planting and harvest HOWEVER I did spend yesterday planting my onion seedlings for this coming season. Last year I planted in the rain (which is great for the plants but not so much for me). This year the weather was warm and sunny so I had to make sure the seedlings didn't dry out whilst planting them.

The onion seeds were started in early August and then kept on the veranda behind glass until they sprouted and were big enough to transplant into the main garden
This above photo shows planting and sprouting. By the time I came to plant them yesterday they had been growing in the pots for about 6 weeks. This next photo shows how they looked yesterday
I live in a cold climate zone so I can plant onion seeds anytime from April to August. The reason I leave it so late to plant is so I can give my garden beds a good rest over winter. The beds have been mulched in cow & sheep manure and then let rest.
I've planted 5 packets of onions this year. We use a lot of onions so I always like to grow as many as I can. We use them in stews, & BBQ's plus I make onion soup.
Onions take many months to grow so these guys wont be ready for harvest until Dec/Jan . I've planted 2 of the containers and will come back and finish planting the rest in a few days time.
Below are a few photos from previous harvest

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Start of a new Growing Season

I've been busy making knitted toys over winter so haven't had time to scratch myself  let alone blog about it but anyhoo I did have a few moments last week to put together a photo of my vegetable garden from the day it was made in 2007 right up to this year August 2015.

If you look carefully you can see where we originally used carpet for the paths but then in 2010 we got rid of that and my hubby laid cement paths. Makes life heaps easier.
I stopped using straw as well. I found it to be nothing but a nuisance and the pests loved it. Now we mulch with cow manure and no more problems.

Over the last 9 years we have used approx. 42 tonne (I know, that's a lot of shite!!!) and about 7 bags of blood & bone. We have used some of the cow manure of the fruit trees and flower gardens as well so not all of the 42 tonne went on the veg garden. The soil at the time was very hard and compacted but over the years has become soft and easy to plant in

Some of the produce over the years

Snow Person

Yup ... got snow .... and lots of it ....
Awww so pretty .... so cold .... its not unusual for us to get snow in Spring because we live in a cold climate ...

Snow = fun ...although not sure my vegetable garden would agree with me on that. The onions and carrots got covered in a couple of inches of snow .... Maybe someone (Mr Onion Guy) needs to toughen up a bit.

The snow was heavy enough to bend the poles of the carrot bed which of course made the netting sag and then some of the carrots were sort of blanketed in a thick layer of snow .... the good thing about snow is that it insulates the plants unlike frost which freezes them ... yup, crazy but true. I would prefer snow to frost any day.

Here is a better view of the carrot bed getting snowed under ... took some of these photos at 11pm ... in my pyjamas .... whilst holding an umbrella ... and wearing gumboots ... I know ... I know .. What can I say ... I'm a trend setter ... anyhoo I needed the umbrella otherwise I would have got covered in snow and ended up looking like a snowman ...  snowwoman? ...  snowperson?? ... what's the politically correct term required when describing a human shaped figure made out of fluffy ice crystals ?? ... hmmm whilst pondering this dilemma I've discovered that political correctness sucks the fun out of everything

And seeing as we are talking about snowmen I decided to build one. What do you think about the technique I used? ... The secret to building a snow man is to roll the snow ... (shhh don't tell anyone)

It is possible that I got a tad carried away with my snowman building abilities ... the neighbours description was "like a person possessed" ... hmm bit harsh ... What else was I going to do with all this snow? ... cant waste it I built 2 snowmen .. big deal

Ok Ok so it might have been more than two .... doesn't everyone build snowmen ... This snow guy in the photo below was the first one I built and you can see the design faults ... plus he looks like he has quite a few other issues but lets discuss the design flaws first .... You see I made the mistake of rolling the middle part of his body waaayyy too much and it became .... ummm .. .how do I explain this  ... a little heavy ... sooo heavy in fact that I could hardly lift the fucker into position ....
After I made him it was perfectly clear to me that my snowman building skills sucked big time .... I mean .. come on What the Hell is that!!! ... and why has he got 2 sticks poking out from the top of his head??? They were suppose to be his arms and instead I got confused and was thinking, momentarily I was making a reindeer .... 

So of course when faced with snowman skills that are below par there is only one thing to do ... yup you guessed it ...  practice, practice, practice I made another one ..... it is possible that I ended up with five of them scattered around the yard ... ... could have been six but whos counting  .... ALRIGHT it was Seven .... I only built Seven of them .... Sheesh!

Dwarf Beans

These are Dwarf beans called “Windsor Longpod” …. Ummm ok … what ever floats ya boat I guess anyhoo, they are growing well and right now they are still sitting in their pots waiting to be transferred to the main garden. Still have a couple of weeks to go so I might have to “pot them up” next week to keep the steady growth happening.
The seeds can be planted directly into the ground however they are frost tender so need protection from any late frost.  Here in the Central Tablelands we always get late frost so no point even trying to plant directly into the garden until after mid-November. These seedlings have been started from seeds and placed next to a warm north facing window on the veranda to encourage germination.
They will be ready to harvest in about 8 weeks and are suitable for freezing. I will start a second lot of these beans when these ones are planted out into the garden. I like to grow enough bean plants to give me at least 28 kilo of beans. Previous years I have grown climbing beans but last year and this year have changed to bush beans.
The bush beans  don’t yield as much as the climbing types but then they don’t suffer from wind burn as badly either because they are closer to the ground and I can protect them better than the climbing ones. We sometimes get really strong hot westerly winds through the growing season and the climbing beans leaves can burn plus the tripods that I grow them up get blown over if the wind gusts get over 100k.

It is a tricky environment that I live in and there are plenty of garden challenges from frost, snow, strong wind, high heat, drought, and hail storms so have to be well aware of the climate zone and ready for any possible weather condition.

Strawberry Jam

Strawberry Jam
1.5kgs strawberries
1/4 cup water
4 tbsps. lemon juice
50g (1 packet) jamsetta
1.5kilo sugar / warmed

1) wash, drain and hull burries
2) place in preserving pand with water, lemon juice and cook gently uncovered until fruit os soft
3) Add jamsetta and warmed sugar
4) heat gently until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally
5) Boil vigorously for 5 to 10 minutes (then test for set)
6) skim scum off surface with metal spoon, if necessary.
7) Allow to stand for 10 mins
8) Pour into warm dry jars
9) Seal immediately with Fowlers Kleerview Covers and label accordingly.

** I've discovered that the secret to making nice spreadable strawberry jam is this .... don't boil it any longer than 10 mins otherwise it goes hard. (other jams such as Apricot & marmalade etc take heaps longer to reach setting point)

Carrots, onions & Potatoes

Posting from Australia - NSW - Cold Climate

Sorry, sorry ,sorry, this post is a bit rushed, got my hands full at the moment with seedlings and baby chickens, craft stuff, and to top it all off I've enter a garden competition ... I must be crazy! ...This time of year is always ridiculously busy and it will stay this way now until about mid April ...  so much to do and so little time to do it all.

I will show you where I am up to in the garden. This photo is of the main vegetable garden which is currently planted out with carrots, onions and potatoes. The remaining beds will be planted out very soon
You can see the Elephant garlic and strawberry patch on the far side plus I put in a few pea plants as well. They are in the strawberry patch because that garden is completely covered and the birds cant get to them.

This next photo shows the carrot bed and you can see that at least they survived the snow that squashed them 2 weeks ago. I was a bit worried thinking they might not make it but all seems good so far.

This next photo shows the onion bed and I originally started the onions as seeds in potting mix and left them out on the veranda until they were big enough to plant out. There are approx. 899 onion seedlings but who's counting.
We've had some really strong winds these last few days which have knocked a few of the onions around but they should recover. So far so good and I am rather happy with how everything is progressing although can never count on anything until harvest time.

This next photo is of the potato patch. We use the "Trench Method" which means we dig a trench and then place the seed potatoes in the trench and cover with soil, as they grow up through the soil we cover the stems until they are level with the surrounding soil, then as they keep growing eventually hill it up around the plant so that only the leaves stick out. The reason is to encourage the plants to produce more potatoes.
The next photo is of my peas which are planted in the strawberry patch along side the strawberries. The reason is because the strawberry patch is completely covered and so it stops the birds from pinching the developing peas & strawberries.

This photo is of my Elephant Garlic and it has just started to develop its scape (flower head). I prefer to grow Elephant garlic than normal garlic because it grows better and doesn't have as many issues as the normal garlic does. Not as susceptible to white rot etc.
I do grow normal garlic as well but this year the normal garlic suffered from the cold snap and snow which fell 2 weeks ago. Normal garlic just doesn't handle the sudden drop of temperature and some of the cloves began to resprout whilst others have succumbed to white rot. Have still got a couple of hundred in the ground but it will be interesting to see what condition they are in when I harvest them.

 This last photo is of my seedlings which will be planted into the main garden sometime next week. I normally wait until after the "Melbourne Cup" to plant ... Why? ... because around here that's what all the locals do .. no-one plants any frost tender plants out into the soil until after the race, it seems the chance of a late frost has well and truly passed by that time. This year the cup is on the 4th of November so I will be out there planting like a crazy person the very next day.

Growing Food

This photo shows the different stages of growth in my vegetable garden. We grow food during the warmer months of the year as its just too cold here through winter to make it worth while.
I'm happy with the way everything is growing at the moment. We've had plenty of rain, the ground is wet, the house tanks & storage tanks are full and the plants are loving it.

Last year was a challenge because we were still in drought and had to buy water and have it trucked in but not this year. The water we've caught in the tanks will be enough to see out the rest of the growing season.

We begin the season in Sept when the onions are planted out, followed by the carrots and then the remaining vegetables planted in mid November
when the last frosts have passed.

We did get a late snow storm on the 14th of October which dumped a heap of snow on my onion & carrots seedlings but thankfully they survived which was a nice surprise.

 I was amazed at the amount of snow that covered them.
The funny thing about snow is that it tends to insulate the plants rather than damage them, except of course if its too heavy like when it got into my apricot tree and snapped off a limb .. bit of a bummer *sad face* but in regard to my seedlings, all it did was sort of gently squash them and when I removed the snow they bounced back up as good as new.

The carrots had netting over them to stop the little birds pulling out the sprouting seeds and the weight of the snow cause the netting to sag a bit
which in turn covered the carrot seedlings in a
thick heavy layer of snow. I was surprised at the weight of it to be honest. It even bent the poles holing up the netting so once the carrots are harvested the poles and netting will be replaced.

The carrots are getting very close to being harvested. I have removed a few of them to see how they are growing and so far so good, they are nice and straight and just need to get a little bit bigger. some will be used fresh in juice and salads etc and the rest will be blanched and frozen for use later through the year in stews etc

The onions survived as well, they were completely covered but once the snow melted they were fine. They are the only two vegetable varieties  I had growing at the time, all the other seedlings, such as corn, beans etc were still siting out on the veranda and were not intended to be planted out until mid November.

The onions are very close to harvest as well. I've got 2 types growing at the moment, "Hunter River Brown" and a white variety that I can't remember the name of.

I was very concerned they wouldn't survive their snowy encounter and felt a bit helpless as I watched the snow slowly cover them up. Thankfully they did survive and I picked the first of them on Monday to have with our
dinner. They still have a few more weeks to go before I end up harvesting them. Once they are harvested I will place them out on the veranda to finish drying and then prepare them for storage by removing the tops and roots.

I live in a cold climate area so I can grow onions during the warmer months but usually they are grown as a winter crop although that does depend on where you live in the world

This is a video I made when I planted the ONIONS and this is a video I made when planting the CARROTS so you can see how easy it is to start these two vegetables from seed. (when I get a spare moment I will make better videos but until then these ones will have to do)